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Culture and Identity in Study Abroad Contexts

After Australia, French without France

Series:

Marie-Claire Patron

This book examines the effects of a study abroad experience on students’ culture and identity and the impact of these effects on their readjustment to their home culture. It explores issues of culture and identity from the perspective of French students studying in Australia. Issues of perceived cultural proximity between France and Australia, a relative lack of prior knowledge of the host country before the period of study and the impact of distance all influence aspects of these students’ experiences. Employing long-term and cross-sectional studies focusing on culture shock, reverse culture shock and cultural identity issues, the author investigates the cyclical journey of French academic sojourners and examines the impact of the acculturation and repatriation processes and the language experiences on their perceptions of cultural identity. Once the students had traversed the difficult stages of culture shock and reached the stage of full recovery (adjustment), they no longer wished to go home. What impact has this process had on the returnees who faced the insularity of their home society once they returned home? Is the French community beginning to acknowledge the start of a brain-drain of the educated French overseas? What are the implications for borderless higher education? What value should be placed on pre-departure preparation from participating institutions and the individuals themselves, both on a linguistic and a psychological level? This book poses questions relating to these issues.

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Chapter Two - Methodology 47

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Chapter 2 Methodology Two research questions were devised to investigate the intricacies of the processes of acculturation and repatriation of the French sojourners in this project. A further question was included to identify the impact linguistic changes experienced by the group had on these processes. A final question was posed to investigate the changing perceptions of their cultural identity following the cultural exchange in Australia. 1. What is the acculturation process which French academic sojourners undergo in Australia? 2. What happens when they repatriate? 3. What are the language experiences of the French students in Australia and upon re-entry in their homeland? 4. How did they perceive their changing cultural identity or a sense of discontinuity during and after their acculturation and repatriation processes? The research questions sought to identify the intercultural and acculturation experiences of this discrete group of academic sojourners, both during their sojourn in Australia and after their return home. This project has been oriented towards an eclectic and holistic approach to the study of the acculturation and repatriation of French academic sojourners in an Australian context, through the use of a cyclical process in the methodology of data collection and ensuing analysis, primarily because adaptation processes are rarely one- dimensional. 48 The Research Design A qualitative-holistic research design of gathering and analysing evidence using a multi-linear longitudinal and cross-sectional appro- ach (Kim, 2001) was adopted. A total of thirty-four interviews formed the basis of the project, with twenty-eight French individuals studying in Australian universities participating in...

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